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Blockchain Can Help Securing Your AadharBy Amit Dudani | April 6, 2018, 7:03 a.m. GMT
It is essentially important for every country to have an Identity system especially for the countries like India where population crosses 1 billion. Here a unique, immutable identity associated with every citizen is vital for governance and security. This is important to pass on benefits and subsidies in sectors such as insurance, education, and healthcare. Identity is also vital to ensure that people do not misuse the system with duplication, example of PAN (permanent account number) cards, licenses and other such documents. That is why banks, telecom services providers, and everyone else has the concept of KYC (know your customer). For the government to have “one-KYC-to-rule-them-all” or a National Identity System is critical, and far more efficient than having multiple ones.
Aadhaar is an extraordinary effort of the Indian government to secure its citizens’ fundamental rights to have an unbearable identity. This project gives a unique 12 digit number to all its citizens known as the Aadhaar number.
Aadhar initiated Unique ID project came up with the report that 10 fingerprints and facial biometrics are not quite enough to guarantee the uniqueness in such a huge population and hence, proposed to use Iris as a third factor.
Aadhaar builds a way to uniquely identify the residents of India. Since the identifier is unique, other systems can identify the user and correlate the user across different systems. For example, if you open a bank account with your Aadhaar number — the bank can independently verify your address and trustworthiness by connecting to other systems and correlate using the Aadhaar number.
With Aadhaar, you have nothing to lose. Knowing just your Aadhar number will be enough and your fingerprints and iris will be the key. In no way then anyone can take your identity away from you. But, yet again Aadhaar is a centralized system and all the centralized systems are honeypots. If anyone is able to penetrate the security and hacks into the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR), can have access to the personally identifiable information of more than 1 billion users.
Drawbacks of current system
Aadhaar is under the control of the Central Government of India. Technically, there can be many other measures to protect the system from data hacks. But, if you own the system and the system owner decides to do something, such measures are not very capable to act as a defense.
Aadhaar & Blockchain
Blockchain was initially designed to solve the double spending problem of Bitcoin — peer to peer payment system. Since then, its applications have surpassed its originally determined use.
Following is a list of some of the key properties of a public blockchain.
- No trusted authority
- Immutable records
Properties of blockchain can be utilized to make Aadhaar more transparent and publicly auditable. If the Aadhar records are put on a blockchain network, the records will be publicly available. The records will be cryptographically protected to ensure that only the intended parties get to use it. Any change to the records will also be captured and the complete audit trail would be visible. This will allow each individual to monitor changes happening against their Aadhaar record.
Aadhaar is a very important and critical initiative, privacy doubts or the fear of vulnerability of hack should not weaken this. We must wrest the initiative that the Supreme Court judgment gives us. Let’s seriously explore blockchain and see what we can retrofit, or perhaps even think of Aadhaar 2.0 on the blockchain